[ dik-shuhn ]
See synonyms for diction on Thesaurus.com
  1. style of speaking or writing as dependent upon choice of words: good diction.

  2. the accent, inflection, intonation, and speech-sound quality manifested by an individual speaker, usually judged in terms of prevailing standards of acceptability; enunciation.

Origin of diction

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English diccion, from Late Latin dictiōn- (stem of dictiō ) “word,” Latin: “rhetorical delivery,” equivalent to dict(us) “said, spoken (past participle of dīcere ) + -iōn- -ion

synonym study For diction

1. Diction, phraseology, wording refer to the means and the manner of expressing ideas. Diction usually implies a high level of usage; it refers chiefly to the choice of words, their arrangement, and the force, accuracy, and distinction with which they are used: The speaker was distinguished for his excellent diction; poetic diction. Phraseology refers more to the manner of combining the words into related groups, and especially to the peculiar or distinctive manner in which certain technical, scientific, and professional ideas are expressed: legal phraseology. Wording refers to the exact words or phraseology used to convey thought: the wording of a will.

Other words for diction

Other words from diction

  • dic·tion·al, adjective
  • dic·tion·al·ly, adverb

Words Nearby diction

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use diction in a sentence

  • But give me a comprehensive idea of the place, in your own inimitable unvarnished diction.

    Ancestors | Gertrude Atherton
  • Cibber almost new wrote the whole, and the last act was entirely his in conduct, sentiment and diction.

    The Fatal Dowry | Philip Massinger
  • The critics say that his sublimity of diction is sometimes carried to an extreme, so that his language becomes inflated.

  • Tragedy is a drama in which the diction is dignified, the movement impressive, and the ending unhappy.

    English: Composition and Literature | W. F. (William Franklin) Webster
  • He loved a correct and classic diction, and never underrated style, so long as style was not an excuse for poverty of thought.

    The Life of Mazzini | Bolton King

British Dictionary definitions for diction


/ (ˈdɪkʃən) /

  1. the choice and use of words in writing or speech

  2. the manner of uttering or enunciating words and sounds; elocution

Origin of diction

C15: from Latin dictiō a saying, mode of expression, from dīcere to speak, say

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Cultural definitions for diction


The choice of words. Diction is effective when words are appropriate to an audience. A man might refer to his car as his “wheels” in casual conversation with a friend, but if he were writing an essay for a group of economists, he would write, “People base their decision to buy an automobile on the following considerations,” not “People base their decision to buy wheels on the following considerations.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.